Surgical Education Research Fellowship Overview

ASE Surgical Education Research Fellowship – Sponsored by Ethicon Endo-Surgery

Since its founding in 1980, the goals and the activities of the ASE have been predicated on seeking and promulgating educationally and scientifically sound answers to the many complex questions, issues and concerns that are integral to the advancement of surgical education. In 1993, the ASE established the ASE Foundation to secure and distribute grant funds to researchers, educators and clinicians interested in investigating such questions and issues.

One of the Foundation’s most popular and recognized initiatives for this purpose is the Surgical Education Research Fellowship program (SERF), a one year, home-site fellowship designed to equip investigators with the skills and knowledge needed to plan, implement and report research studies in the field of surgical education. Following acceptance into the SERF program, each fellow is carefully matched by the program’s faculty with a SERF Advisor, a respected and knowledgeable researcher who will serve as the fellow’s mentor and consultant on their particular project.

Funding is provided by Ethicon Endo-Surgery and tuition paid by the fellow’s home institution.

There are numerous benefits to participating in this prestigious fellowship. The primary benefit is that this unique fellowship affords the opportunity for motivated individuals to become proficient in a skill set highly valued by their home institutions as well as the field in general. As new knowledge relevant to surgical education is the key to the growth and development of the discipline, those educators with the requisite, specialized skills and credentials become important members of departments and institutions that are committed to securing leadership and prominence in the field.

In addition, through working with their SERF Advisor and meeting with other SERF participants, fellows establish an invaluable, life-long network of colleagues who share their career aspirations and interests.

2019 SERF Brochure


What are the SERF Program Objectives?

The objectives of the SERF program are as follows:

  • Methodically and thoroughly access and review the education literature.
  • Formulate original and significant research questions.
  • Design an educational research project using appropriate methodologies.
  • Manage a educational research project.
  • Organize presentation of completed educational research projects for peer-reviewed academic publications and/or conferences.
  • Develop a network of surgical education research colleagues.

Who Can Apply?

Members of the Association for Surgical Education who are interested in pursuing educational research.

For more information on becoming a member of the Association for Surgical Education, visit here.


How Does One Apply?

Applicants must complete the online SERF Application Form and submit it with required attachments.


What are the Costs Involved?

Tuition is $1800.00. Other expenses include travel to the seminars as well as the SERF Forum.


What are the Fellowship Requirements?

The SERF program is primarily designed to allow fellows to conduct reading assignments and research activities at their home institutions under the guidance of their Advisor.

However, during their fellowships, SERF fellows are required to attend and participate actively in the below seminars and the SERF Forum.

Session 1
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
8:00 am-5:00 pm
ASE Annual Meeting – Fairmont, Chicago, IL
Full day workshop during the 2019 ASE Annual Meeting meeting.  Consists of interactive didactic sessions that enhance participants’ knowledge of educational research design.

Session 2
Thursday, April 25, 2019
8:00 am -12:00 pm
ASE Annual Meeting – Fairmont, Chicago, IL
Half day workshop during the 2018 ASE Annual Meeting. Offers the participants an opportunity to receive greater feedback on their ideas from faculty and co-fellows.

Session 3
Sunday, October 27, 2019
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
ACS Clinical Congress – San Francisco, CA
American College of Surgeons
Full day workshop during the 2018 ACS Clinical Congress.  Will provide each SERF fellow the opportunity to share his/her work to date and receive feedback in order to refine their work.

Session 4- SERF Forum
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
1:00-5:30 pm
ASE Annual Meeting, – Seattle, WA
SERF Forum during 2019 ASE Annual Meeting.  SERF fellows will present their project to peers and faculty in podium format.

SERF participants are generally expected to complete course requirements in one year. Fellows pursuing survey, descriptive or basic experimental design studies typically complete their project in twelve months. Fellows conducting research requiring larger sample sizes, instrument development and / or more sophisticated experimental studies may have up to three years to complete their fellowship.

In the course of the program, SERF fellows are expected to:

  • Collaborate with their Advisor on the design and development of the project;
  • When completed, submit an abstract or paper (either co-authored or approved by their Advisor) to a peer-reviewed forum or journal.

Who are the SERF Faculty?

Maura Sullivan, MSN, PhD
SERF Program Director
Professor of Clinical Surgery
Associate Dean for Simulation Education
University of Southern California

Dr. Maura Sullivan is the Associate Dean of Simulation Education for Health Sciences and the Executive Director of the Surgical Skills Simulation and Education Center in the Department of Surgery, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. She has a joint appointment with the Rossier School of Education where she is a Professor of Education and a Senior Research Associate in the Center for Cognitive Technology.

Dr. Sullivan earned a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of California, San Francisco in 1993 and her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California in 2004. Her research and academic interests include Cognitive-Task-Analysis, curriculum and faculty development, and the development of expertise and technical skills training.  She has been actively involved in the ASE since 1998 where she is a member of the Board of Directors and a member of the grants review committee, Center for Excellence in Surgical Education, Research and Training (CESERT).  She holds an appointment with the American College of Surgeons as an ATLS Educator, is the Co-Editor-In Chief for the Resources in Surgical Education peer review online journal, is a member of the leadership team for the development of an online assessment tool to measure readiness on incoming PGY 1 residents to assume clinical duties and is a Co-Director for the Surgeons As Educators Course.  In addition, she is a faculty member for the Association of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynecology (APGO) Academic Scholars and Leaders Program.

David Rogers, MD, MHPE, FACS, FAAP
SERF Program Co-Director
Professor of Surgery, Medical Education and Pediatrics
Senior Associate Dean
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine
UAB Medicine Chief Wellness Officer

Dr. David A. Rogers is a professor in the Departments of Surgery, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Medical Education and Pediatrics and an adjunct appointment in the Collat School of Business. He has served as the Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development at the School of Medicine since 2012 and in this role serves as the co-director of the UAB Healthcare Leadership Academy. He was named the UAB Medicine Chief Wellness Officer and was appointed to the ProAssurance Chair of Physician Wellness in 2018.

Dr. Rogers received his medical degree from the University of South Florida and completed his general surgery training at the Medical College of Georgia.  He subsequently completed his pediatric general surgery training at the University of Tennessee and a pediatric surgery oncology fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  He received a Master of Health Professions Education degree (MHPE) from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed the Surgical Education Research Fellowship program sponsored by the Association for Surgical Education.

Before he began his administrative leadership roles, Dr. Rogers led an active research program in surgical education and served as a surgery clerkship director. He continues to be involved in surgical education by serving as a faculty member of the American College of Surgeon’s as Educators Course and is the Course Chair of the American College of Surgeon’s Residents as Teachers and Leaders program. A recipient of numerous departmental and institutional teaching awards, Dr. Rogers is a 2012 recipient of an Association for Surgical Education Distinguished Educator Award.

Rebecca Henry, PhD
Professor of Medical Education Emeritus
College of Human Medicine
Michigan State University

Dr. Rebecca Henry received her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in educational psychology, majoring in Learning and Cognition with a minor in Statistics and Research Design. She has conducted national program evaluations in health professions education funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and consulted on program evaluations sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Macy Foundation, Hartford Foundation and the Secret Service. Dr. Henry currently directs a performance based assessment initiative that is a comprehensive clinical skills exam for third year medical students. She has been actively involved in teaching research skills to physician faculty from surgery, medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology for 20 years.

Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine

Dr. Arghavan Salles is a minimally invasive surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interest in education goes back to her youth when she frequently engaged in tutoring and teaching activities. When Dr. Salles was in medical school, she became interested in medical education. In particular, she was concerned about the disconnect between the expertise amongst those in schools of education and those who are responsible for medical education. She ultimately pursued a PhD in Education during her residency. During this time she became fascinated by social psychology and in particular the ways in which negative stereotypes can affect people’s performance. Her current research agenda focuses on gender stereotypes, gender equity, and physician well-being.

Dr. Salles has been a long-time member of the Association for Surgical Education (ASE) and has previously completed a Surgical Education Research Fellowship (SERF). She continues to be involved in SERF by mentoring fellows. She is the Surgical Director of the Washington University Institute for Surgical Education and the current Vice Chair of the Multi-Institutional Education Research group within ASE.

Emil Petrusa, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Emil Petrusa began working in medical education while in graduate school earning a PhD in educational psychology. From that experience with the physician’s assistant program he began a career of educational innovation, improvement and scholarship at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Duke University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and now with the Department of Surgery and Learning lab at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. His areas of expertise include simulation-based assessment of healthcare providers’ clinical performance and educational research. At MGH his job shifted to supporting surgical and medical educators to innovate in ways to allow their projects to be worthy of publication. The range of published topics has ranged from emotional intelligence, to assessing operative autonomy of surgical residents, to a competency-based training model for fundamentals of endoscopic surgery.  Dr. Petrusa mentored 3 SERFers. He is completing a two-year chair of the Assessment & Evaluation Committee of the Associate for Surgical Education (ASE).

 Michael Kim, MD
University of Alberta

Dr. Michael Kim is a faculty member in the Departments of Surgery and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Alberta.  He completed a Master of Arts in Springfield, IL while a Surgical Education research fellow at Southern Illinois University.  His current research focus is the completion of a PhD at the University of Toronto studying assessment of residents in difficulty.  Michael’s interests are in workplace based assessment and feedback.  He has served as Chair of the Education Research Committee and is the upcoming Chair of the Assessment and Evaluation Committee for the Association for Surgical Education.

For any questions, please email Catherine Sutherland at catherine@surgicaleducation.com.